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Brandon Tsay, hero who wrestled a gunman, calls for fundamental change in gun control

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Brandon Tsay, who emerged as a national hero in January after fearlessly subduing a gunman on New Year’s Eve, stands outside his family’s dance studio, Lai Lai Dance Studio, in Alhambra on June 5. The backdrop of the photograph showcases the lobby area, characterized by a red awning, where the confrontation unfolded. [Inseong Choi, The Korea Daily]
Brandon Tsay, 26, found himself facing a gunman armed with a rifle at Lai Lai Dance Studio in Alhambra on Lunar New Year’s Eve last January.

He swiftly became a national hero after bravely wrestling the gunman, who had already taken the lives of over a dozen people, to the ground.

His heroic actions earned him meetings with the U.S. president and the California governor, appearances on morning news shows, and tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

Now, 135 days later, Tsay shares his thoughts with those still grappling with the aftermath of the Dallas shooting, offering insight into the ongoing issue of mass shootings in the country.

During an interview with The Korea Daily on June 5, conducted at the scene of the incident in the bustling lobby of his studio, Tsay expresses his concern over the nation’s reputation as a hotbed of crime and evil.

He urges politicians to take action and work towards restoring the country to its former glory.

The following are edited excerpts from the interview:

-How do you feel about the incident, and would you have made a different decision if given the chance?
“I can definitely admit that it was difficult to come to terms with the realization that I could have lost my life during the incident. However, given the opportunity to go back in time, I would not change anything because I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience such a dangerous situation.”

-What do you believe is the underlying issue with guns, and what have you learned from your interactions with politicians?
“The ease of acquiring firearms and the lack of effective regulations are the fundamental problems. Through discussions with politicians, I have highlighted the need for stricter regulations to prevent tragic events caused by the easy availability of guns.”

-How do you perceive the Dallas shooting and its impact on the Korean-American community?
“I am deeply saddened by the Dallas shooting and the innocent Korean-American victims. It’s distressing to see previous incidents, like the ‘Korean spa shooting’ in Atlanta and the murder of a Korean family in a Dallas mall, which further exemplify the violence targeting Korean-Americans. Cultural barriers and a lack of support make Asian minorities more vulnerable to such acts of violence.”

-What message do you want to convey regarding the state of the nation and the role of politicians?
“The country has reached a standstill, and it’s crucial to urge politicians to take action and improve our nation. America has become synonymous with crime and evil. We must emphasize the need to restore our nation’s former glory as a beacon of hope through innovation, education, and discipline.”

-What advice can you offer to individuals faced with a gunman?
“I advise individuals to prioritize their safety when confronted with a gunman. It’s important to contact the authorities, seek help, or find a way to escape harm’s way.”

-What was one of the most memorable expressions of gratitude you received?
“One of the most touching displays of gratitude was a collection of drawings from elementary school students. They depicted me as a hero, showing their support and appreciation for my courageous actions. It deeply moved me.”

-What are your future plans, and how do you intend to assist the victims?
“My immediate plan is to pursue higher education by attending college. Additionally, I aspire to establish a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness about mental health resources and wellness. My goal is to prevent similar incidents and combat violence and hate crimes. I intend to create a ‘Brandon Tsay Hero Fund’ to provide support for the victims.”

BY INSEONG CHOI   [support@koreadaily.com]